Pennsylvania Code & Bulletin
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

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234 Pa. Code Rule 703. Disclosure of Pre-Sentence Reports.

Rule 703. Disclosure of Pre-Sentence Reports.

 (A)  All pre-sentence reports and related psychiatric and psychological reports shall be confidential, and not of public record. They shall be available to the sentencing judge, and to:

   (1)  An examining professional or facility appointed to assist the court in sentencing, unless the sentencing judge otherwise orders;

   (2)  the attorney for the Commonwealth and counsel for the defendant, for inspection and copying, unless the sentencing judge orders that they be available for inspection only.

 (B)  If the defendant or the Commonwealth alleges any factual inaccuracy in a report under this rule, the sentencing judge shall, as to each inaccuracy found, order that the report be corrected accordingly.

 (C)  After sentencing, unless the sentencing judge otherwise orders, and subject to the provisions of paragraph (B), psychiatric, psychological, and pre-sentence reports shall also be available to:

   (1)  correctional institutions housing the defendant; and

   (2)  departments of probation or parole supervising the defendant; and

   (3)  departments of probation or parole preparing a pre-sentence investigation report regarding the defendant.

   The reports shall continue to be confidential and not of public record.

 (D)  On the order of the sentencing judge, a psychiatric, psychological, or pre-sentence investigation report may be made available to any other person or agency having a legitimate professional interest in the disposition of the case.

 (E)  The sentencing judge may at any time impose further conditions of confidentiality on a person or agency receiving a report under paragraphs (C) or (D) of this rule.

Comment

   This rule facilitates the sentencing process by permitting disclosure of reports not only to counsel and those persons appointed to assist the court in sentencing, but also to those charged with effecting the sentence imposed—correctional institutions and departments of probation and parole. See also Rule 702.

   The persons, agencies, and institutions enumerated in paragraphs (A) and (C) would ordinarily be given access to the confidential reports encompassed by this rule. A court order is not necessary. Under paragraphs (C)(1) and (2), it is intended that out-of-state correctional facilities and parole boards would also have access to such reports, subject to the provisions of paragraphs (B) and (C).

   The disclosure provisions contained in paragraph (A)(2) and paragraph (B) are not intended to encourage formal litigation over confidential reports, but should avoid such litigation by affording counsel for both parties full disclosure of reports and the opportunity to point out any inaccuracies before the judge imposes sentence. Disclosure under paragraph (A)(2) should be made in sufficient time for counsel to prepare for the sentencing hearing. See Rule 704.

   Although it is not necessary for a probation officer to make a sentencing recommendation, if one is made, it should be disclosed to defense counsel. See Commonwealth v. Bastone, 467 A.2d 1339 (Pa. Super. 1983).

   Paragraph (B) is intended to insure that reports considered by the sentencing judge and disclosed after sentencing are factually accurate, particularly in light of the reliance placed on the information contained in reports by correctional facilities and probation and parole departments. Although paragraph (B) addresses inaccuracies alleged by the defendant or the Commonwealth, the section is not intended to preclude the sentencing judge from finding and correcting an inaccuracy sua sponte.

   This rule requires full disclosure to those persons and facilities listed in paragraph (A). Under paragraphs (C), (D), and (E), however, the sentencing judge retains the discretion to withhold confidential reports or to impose special conditions of confidentiality at any time.

   When a psychiatric, psychological, or pre-sentence investigation report is relevant to a sentencing issue, the report should be sealed to preserve its confidentiality, and made part of the record for review.

   Official Note

   Former Rule 1404 adopted July 23, 1973, effective 90 days hence; amended December 14, 1979, effective April 1, 1980; rescinded November 1, 1991, effective January 1, 1992. Present Rule 1404 adopted November 1, 1991, effective January 1, 1992; renumbered Rule 703 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Report explaining the January 1, 1992 amendments published at 20 Pa.B. 1697 (March 24, 1990); Supplemental Report published with the Court’s Order at 21 Pa.B. 5329 (November 16, 1991).

   Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Court’s Order at 30 Pa.B. 1477 (March 18, 2000).



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